Anti-Putin Russian MP close to expulsion from parliament

10th September 2012, Comments 0 comments

An influential lawmaker known for criticising Russian President Vladimir Putin was Monday on the verge of being expelled from parliament after a panel agreed a vote should be held on his ouster.

A parliamentary commission reviewed documents provided by investigators regarding the business interests of Gennady Gudkov, deputy head of the Just Russia party, deciding that Gudkov broke the law by combining work in business and public service.

"There are grounds for ending Gudkov's mandate," the head of the parliament's committee overseeing deputies' declarations of income and properties Vladimir Vasilyev, also a member of the majority United Russia party, was quoted as saying by his party's website.

Gudkov's ouster will now be voted on by parliament and is likely to be approved as the Duma is still dominated by United Russia which votes overwhelmingly for Kremlin-approved directives.

Gudkov, 56, has called the initiative against him a "farce" pushed by the Kremlin ahead of the mass opposition protest planned for September 15.

Half of the majority party deputies own multimillion-dollar businesses, he said, arguing that he pulled out of his business interests that included private security before taking office.

"This is a settling of scores," he told Dozhd television channel last week. "Only a court ruling can take a deputy out of the Duma against his will... It's an extrajudicial reprisal and I have no way to defend myself."

It was not clear Monday when the parliament will vote on taking away the mandate of Gudkov, who is not yet officially under any criminal investigation.

Other opposition deputies, including Gudkov's son Dmitry, have launched a campaign to expose the multimillion dollar properties and business assets of United Russia lawmakers, calling them "golden pretzels".

Gudkov is a product of the Soviet establishment and even worked at the KGB in the Moscow region in the 1980s.

He started a career in the parliament in 2001, and was a member of United Russia for several years before switching to populist Just Russia, gradually becoming one of the Kremlin's most vocal critics in the Duma.

© 2012 AFP

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